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This review is taken from PN Review 50, Volume 12 Number 6, July - August 1986.

INTERIM CRANE Hart Crane, Complete Poems, edited by Brom Weber (Bloodaxe Books), £4.95 pb.

This is an 'interim edition' of a poet whose critical reputation has reached the interim stage, midway between neglect and complete assimilation to his time and traditions. That latter state will now depend on the appearance of Brom Weber's - the present editor's - projected variorum edition. A half-century after Hart Crane's death and given the smallness of his output (the addition of twenty-two excluded, unpublished and draft pieces to the canon of the 1966 Collected Poems still only stretches the book to a generously printed and spaced 200 pages), such a slow rate of editorial response may seem surprising.

Yet Crane's reputation as a 'difficult' poet has gone hand in hand with his unavailability on the bookshop shelves. Unfamiliarity breeds suspicion, and a certain windy deference. No other major modernist - European or American - has been so thoroughly damned with faint praise and so thoroughly neglected by anthologists and by teachers and their students. The first of these have at least some palpable excuse: the editor of that useful Penguin Longer Contemporary Poems was put off, back in 1966, by the 'truly spectacular' copyright fee demanded by Crane's publishers for inclusion of The Bridge. Crane remains widely unread, known mainly at one remove or from a few sampled lines. Even so, there have been monographs and theses in plenty, and two full-scale biographies (the later and better, John Unterecker's massive Voyager, is missed by Brom Weber's rather anachronistic introduction, casually reprinted from the 1966 edition), ...

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